Mark Newman - Walls of Jericho (Danal Music)****

It's not often you come across a fairly new player with an incredibly sharp classic sound. That's certainly the case with Mark Newman. His new album just rocks. Newman's middle of the road rock style is one winning formula. There are a lot of comparisons that come to mind: Ry Cooder, The Allman Brothers Band, The Eagles, and even Lynyrd Skynyrd. And few other things in between, but what really strikes here is the mature songwriting. His structures and arrangements are very interesting. Newman is quite accomplished in that area, but he's a great guitar player as well.

"Walls of Jericho" instantly puts you in a great mood. It's a very positive album, catchy and memorable. There are plenty of great hooks that just tempt the listener's attention. Newman's delivery is very reflective and certainly radio friendly. And he can slide too. The album consists of two covers Willy DeVille's "Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl," and It's A Beautiful Day's signature "White Bird." Both done with great style and feel, and ideally fit with the rest of the material.

While Newman is not breaking any new norms, what he does is quite fantastic. The album has a definite charm, and should certainly find a large audience.

Mark Kadzielawa